The TV Czar’s Emmy Ballot: Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Look out men of the drama acting world, some really talented women are coming for your corner.

While that may be an overstatement (drama series still have an easier time writing for men than for women), one can’t help but notice the growing population of excellent dramatic actresses in lead roles. More impressive is that women are starting to get roles long devoted to men. The cable anti-hero is no longer a male-dominated field. Characters like Carrie Mathison and Elizabeth Jennings are as rich and troubled as their male counterparts, but they don’ have to forfeit the feminine side of their character. We’re in a good place in television if we can find female leads in dramas every bit as complex and dynamic as the top men of dramas.

Connie Britton, Nashville
 

Nashville (ABC) Episode 21 I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (8)

While Nashville can be silly in the wrong ways on occasion, the performance on Connie Britton allowed the show to carry a certain weight to it. Britton has long been the solid center of a good drama (see Friday Night Lights), but Nashville allowed her to drive the story and do some fantastic things in addition to her normal Mrs. Coach-iness.

Claire Danes, Homeland
 

Homeland Season 2 Episode 9 Two Hats (7)

The reigning champ, and the five-star lock to return to the field. As discussed with Damian Lewis’s Emmy candidacy, whatever wayward narrative issues arose during the second season of Homeland is not the fault of the stars portraying their characters. Much like last year, Danes was phenomenal in conveying the inner turmoil of a brilliant CIA intelligence officer who struggles with mental issues. Last year, she gave probably the best performance in all of television. This year, she was once again very strong. There are so many disparate pieces of character, and Danes plays all of them phenomenally. Regardless of gender, she may be the best actor on television right now.

Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
 

What's In The Box?

Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
 

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Keri Russell, The Americans
 

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If not for the woman that follows her on this list, Keri Russell may have been the winner of the “Whoa!” award for this TV season. To this point, Russell has had a solid career that’s consisted of some solid dramatic chops paired with plenty of witty banter. The incarnation of Keri Russell on The Americans is a completely different animal. Her intensity and ferocity really jumps off the screen. Elizabeth Jennings is not a woman to be trifled with. That being said, Elizabeth Jennings is also an emotionally vulnerable woman whose emotional development was shut down at a young age. Russell plays both sides brilliantly.

Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
 

John Sanford's Certain Prey

And here’s our winner of the “Whoa!” award.